Must-see movies in 2013: Originals

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We’ve made it to the beginning of 2013, and yet it’s hard to believe 2012 has flown by so fast. Looking back, there’s no doubt we’ve sat through some pretty great cinematic experiences, but we like to keep our eyes in the future. Here are some of the year’s upcoming film releases that get our senses tingling just thinking about them.

First published on 8 Jan 2013. Updated on 1 Aug 2013.

Gangster Squad
Opens 10 Jan
Dir: Ruben Fleischer. 2013. USA. 113 mins. Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Josh Brolin.
Mickey Cohen, the baddest mobster in California from the ‘30s to the ‘60s, is once again portrayed in pop culture after appearing in notable films like Bugsy and L.A. Confidential. This time, Oscar-winning actor Sean Penn (whose past flicks include the critically-acclaimed Milk and Mystic River) looks to his dark side to channel the gangster kingpin in Zombieland director’s highly fictionalised account of LAPD cop John O’Mara (Brolin) and his undercover team’s attempt to sweep the slime off the streets of 1940s Los Angeles. We’re looking forward to the revival of the on-screen chemistry between Ryan Gosling’s womanising sergeant and Cohen’s girlfriend Grace Faraday, played by Emma Stone (after Crazy, Stupid, Love). Oh, and a whole lot of slashing, blood splattering and savagery.

Cloud Atlas
Opens 17 Jan
Dir: Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski. 2013. Germany/USA/Hong Kong/Singapore. 172 mins. Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess.
Three directors. Six separate plots. Six different time zones. A jaw-dropping array of esteemed actors, each taking multiple roles (big or small) that transcend gender and race. Sounds perplexing? That’s Cloud Atlas for you. Adapted from David Mitchell’s 2004 award-winning novel, the film was, is and always will be surrounded by a mist of controversy (and differing reviews) since being hailed as an ‘unadaptable’ story from the very beginning. But that’s what makes it interesting. There are layers upon layers of intricacies to be discovered as the actors ambitiously portray characters across time that are connected in a way to one another, and the film goes from drama to comedy to romance to horror, accentuated by incredible makeup work and striking special effects. However complicated it may be, it’s definitely an experience not to be missed out on. But if you’re worried, read the book first.
 
The Master
Opens 24 Jan
Dir: Paul Thomas Anderson. 2012. USA. 144 mins. Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Philip Seymour Hoffman.
The latest epic undertaking by Oscar-nominated There will be Blood director is already attracting critics and garnering buzz over predictions of Oscar prestige. Supposedly inspired by L Ron Hubbard and his controversial church of Scientology, this fictional story follows charismatic 1950s cult ringleader Lancaster Dodd (Hoffman) as he mentors and builds up Freddie Quell (Phoenix), a World War II Navy veteran and disturbed addict who suffers from a ‘nervous condition.’ Some call it mesmerising and eloquent, others slap labels like ‘pointless’ on it and predict a swift collapse at the box office. While it’s not your typical feel-good movie, it does offer an enthralling performance by the cast. You’ll have to see it for yourself to decide which side you’re on.
 
Oz: The Great and Powerful
Opens 7 Mar
Dir: Sam Raimi. 2013. USA. James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams, Zach Braff.
Billed as the story behind L Frank Baum’s beloved Wizard of Oz, The Spider-Man trilogy director’s quirky film sees Oscar Diggs (Franco), a not-so-successful magician, transported from Kansas to the magnificent Land of Oz, where he meets three beautiful witches and inevitably becomes enchanted by their whimsical world. Aside from the stunning visuals and bewitching magical arts, we’re curious to step into Oscar’s shoes and embark on the (possible) adventure of a lifetime to see how the supreme Wizard came to be.
 
Django Unchained
Opens 21 Mar
Dir: Quentin Tarantino. 2012. USA. 165 mins. Jamie Foxx, Don Johnson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Christoph Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson.
You’ve seen the Tarantino classics (Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill, Inglourious Basterds), you know his trademark stamp of stylised violence. With Django Unchained, his first foray into the western world, he skilfully crafts a sleek story revolving around slavery and racism, with (of course) exorbitant amounts of blood and gore, plus slips of racist language. Inspired by Sergio Corbucci’s 1966 western piece, Tarantino’s version proudly bears his fingerprints with a melodramatic rewrite of American history as Jamie Foxx’s slave character (turned bounty hunter by his mentor) seeks revenge on his wife’s ‘owner’. Not for the faint of heart.
 
The Great Gatsby
Opens 16 May
Dir: Baz Luhrmann. 2013. USA/Australia. Leonardo DiCaprio, Isla Fisher, Jason Clarke, Carey Mulligan, Joel Edgerton, Tobey Maguire.
From the fantastical mind of Baz Luhrmann, who directed gorgeous films like Moulin Rouge and Australia,comes a new adaptation of F Scott Fitzgerald’s literary classic of the same name, appropriately starring Leonardo DiCaprio as the titular character. The trailer alone looks like an amazing visual feast, plus the cast is made up of stellar actors and hip-hop mogul Jay-Z has been brought on board as the composer, so we’re pretty psyched for this one. If you don’t know the story, it’s about wide-eyed, aspiring writer Nick Carraway (Maguire), who arrives in the Big Apple from the Midwest during the Jazz Age and finds himself drawn into the mysterious, luxurious world of millionaire Jay Gatsby (DiCaprio).
 
After Earth
Opens 6 June
Dir: M. Night Shyamalan. 2013. USA. Will Smith, Jaden Smith, Isabelle Fuhrman.
Real life meets reel life as both Smiths team up to play, well, a father and son who crash land on earth a thousand years after a huge-scale catastrophe has wiped out all of humanity. But this planet is not one to seek solace in – it’s swarming with creatures that have evolved and made it their sole mission to destroy humans. With that danger in mind, the duo has to fight the odds and somehow find a way back home. While the film’s premise isn’t the most original and we’ve lost a little faith in Shyamalan after his The Last Airbender flop, the visuals look sensational and we’re anticipating a sleek version of what might have been if the Mayans were right.
 
World War Z
Opens 20 June
Dir: Marc Forster. 2013. USA/Malta. Brad Pitt, Eric West, Matthew Fox, Mireille Enos.
After the vampire craze, it seems zombies are the next big thing. Quantum of Solace director takes on a different (and hopefully better) kind of action with this post-apocalyptic horror flick based on Max Brooks’ novel of the same name. Brad Pitt stars as a courageous family man and UN employee caught in the middle of a worldwide zombie pandemic; with the clock ticking away, he joins forces with the remaining humans to stop the sweeping infection from devouring our entire world. Definitely a suspenseful, seat-gripping flick to watch out for.
 
Pacific Rim
Opens 11 Jul
Dir: Guillermo del Toro. 2013. USA. Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Ron Perlman, Rinko Kikuchi.
Creating giant robots to fight giant monsters? Sounds pretty epic to us. Masterful director of fan favourites like Hellboy and Pan’s Labyrinth Guillermo del Toro draws us into a world where humongous monsters called Kaiju have ravaged Earth through an inter-dimensional breach, wreaking havoc and eliciting irreparable damage on a colossal scale. Naturally, the humans’ response to this massive attack is to match it with towering robots (or Jaegers) controlled by a pair of soldiers whose minds have to work in unison. It’s a classic let’s-unite-against-a-common-enemy-and-save-the-world kind of story, complete with striking visuals, glorious battle scenes and an already growing excitement among audiences since the teaser trailer debuted at comic cons.
 
Elysium
Opens 9 Aug
Dir: Neill Blomkamp. 2013. USA. Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, William Fichtner, Diego Luna.
After the success of 2009’s Oscar-nominated District 9, director/writer Neill Blomkamp is back on our radar with his second foray into feature films, this time bravely travelling into the future – 2159 to be precise – where class segregation is clear from the physical separation of the rich (who live on a man-made space station) and the poor (who are resigned to their fate on a desolate Earth). Sounds kind of familiar, but the premise has piqued our curiosity, especially as Matt Damon is starring as the man who can change the world, preserve his life and bring back equality with one mammoth of a mission.
By Benita Lee
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